What is a phospholipid


Schematic representation of phospholipids, for example as part of a membrane. 1. Hydrophilic head. 2. Lipophilic tail.

Phospholipids are amphiphilic lipids containing phosphorus. As membrane lipids, they are involved in the structure of the double lipid layer of a biomembrane in the organism. They are composed of a hydrophilic head and two hydrophobic hydrocarbon tails. They are therefore amphiphilic.

Phospholipids form a double lipid layer (liposome) in water. The most common phospholipids found in a cell membrane are phosphatidylcholines (also Lecithins, short Pc), Phosphatidylethanolamine (also Cephalin, short PE), Phosphatidylserine (PS) and sphingomyeline.

Due to their chemical structure, phospholipids are divided into the following two groups:[1]

So-called plasmalogens still exist. These differ from phosphoglycerides only in that they are attached to the C1-Atom of glycerine instead of a fatty acid an unsaturated alcohol linked via an ether bridge (e.g. –O – CH = CH– (CH2)n–CH3) wear. They make up 50% of the heart's phospholipids. At 10%, they are the most common molecules in the central nervous system, but they also occur in the heart and skeletal muscles. Their function is not known.

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Thieme Chemistry (ed.): Römpp Online. Version 3.1. Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart 2007.

See also